YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Some People Were Predestined for Traffic School


Dear Street Smart:

Enjoyed your tale about the man and wife who crashed their cars while playing chicken on a residential street (Jan. 7). Here's my favorite residential wreck story, which happened across the street from my house.

A young man was on a lunch break from Saturday traffic school and drove to our neighborhood to visit his girlfriend. Suddenly, he crashed with a car coming around the corner.

What amused us was his lack of concern about the accident. Instead, he was more intent on making it back to traffic school in time so he wouldn't lose credit for attending the morning session!

Lois Hart, Westminster And I thought I had bad luck. That young man is a disaster that's already happened. With people like him on the road, who needs war and pestilence?

Dear Street Smart:

Amen to your "Dented Hubcap Award" (Dec. 31) to the South Coast freeway mess. We frequently drive from our Leisure World home to the Orange County Performing Arts Center and are always apprehensive when we come to this awful place on the freeway where we have to get over to the Bristol off-ramp. Let us hope that Measure M will provide funds for a flyover from (the Costa Mesa Freeway to the San Diego Freeway).

But another problem here also needs to be addressed. It is quite beyond my comprehension how the designers of (San Diego Freeway) could have put only a single lane for the Bristol off-ramp going north on that freeway.

They knew that South Coast Plaza was there and that the Performing Arts Center was in the offing, and still provided for only one lane.

The backup on the ramps, combined with the snafu of getting over to the right lane without getting killed by the 70 m.p.h. drivers entering (the San Diego Freeway from the Costa Mesa Freeway), is a nightmare.

William A. Kline, Laguna Hills When traffic planners cast their gaze on the South Coast area, they don't particularly like what they see either. But they have plans that should help. Unfortunately, they won't be built tomorrow. And when they are built will depend greatly on the availability of money, even in these days of the Measure M half-cent sales-tax hike.

"I don't think anyone was able to predict the success of the South Coast Metro area, frankly," said Bill Morris, Costa Mesa public service director. "It's great for business, but not quite so great for traffic."

The key change is a plan to build a "flyover" freeway bridge that would funnel northbound motorists off the San Diego Freeway and lead them in peace to Bristol Street and the shopping bonanza at South Coast Plaza. This flyover would bring the traffic up and over the thundering hordes exiting the southbound Costa Mesa Freeway to head north on the San Diego Freeway.

Morris said the flyover will cost upwards of $6 million and probably won't be built for another five or six years, since it hasn't even gone through an environmental review yet.

Fortunately, another project farther north on the San Diego Freeway should provide some help. A new ramp off the northbound lanes is planned between Bristol Street and Fairview Road, dumping traffic onto South Coast Drive within easy reach of the clothes racks at May Co. and Nordies. The ramp should be under construction in the fall and be completed in time for Christmas, 1992.

My personal nemesis is the southbound off-ramp to Bristol Street on the San Diego Freeway. This cloverleaf requires motorists to weave through a stream of cars trying to get onto the freeway's southbound lanes. Fortunately, plans call for a new off-ramp to be built that would send cars up to an intersection on Bristol Street where they could be ushered by a signal light across the overpass to South Coast Plaza.

Morris said that the new off-ramp will probably be built in about two years. In my book, that's none too soon.

Dear Street Smart:

I would like to give a special "thank you" to all pickup trucks, vans and other little wide bodies out there on the freeways that drive as close as is safe to their right-side divider lines.

It is such a help for those of us driving behind them to see past on the driver's side and know what the traffic ahead is doing.

Helen Whelan, Laguna Hills So it is said, so it is done. A Golden Hood Ornament Award to those kind souls behind the wheels of trucks, vans and other hefty rigs. Frankly, I've never noticed this being done before. Seems every truck that's ever in front of me I can't see through it, around it or under it. But I'll keep on the lookout for such Samaritans.

Dear Street Smart:

I am a "civilian" traffic-violator instructor. As of Jan. 1, 1990, I have instructed more than 8,000 drivers in Orange County. It may be hard to believe, but I love doing it and find it exciting and very challenging.

Los Angeles Times Articles